Bowling Green’s bats provided pitcher Kevin Leady with a second chance Friday.
|Buffalo's Charlie Karstedt slides back safe to third while BGSU's Clay Duncan is late on the tag. 5/21/10 (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Eastwood High School graduate and the Falcon senior took advantage of the chance.
Leady overcame a difficult start to pitch well over his final five innings, helping BG rally for a 13-7 win over Buffalo at Steller Field.
He allowed five runs on nine hits during his first three innings, but was sharp after that. He gave up just two runs on two hits (both solo home runs) after that, while striking out four and walking one.
Buffalo scored three runs in the top of the first, but the Falcons struck right back with seven runs in the bottom of the first and added a run in the second for an 8-3 lead.
With the win, the Falcons moved within one victory of no worse than a tie for the Mid-American Conference East Division title. BG and Kent are tied for the East lead with 17-9 records entering Saturday’s final game of the regular season. Kent was a 13-6 winner at Akron.
The teams will share the division championship if they finish tied, but Kent would be the No. 2 seed for the MAC Tournament because it won the season series against BG.
BG is 27-21-1 overall. Buffalo, eliminated from tournament contention, is 23-28, 9-17.
“It’s right there within reach,” BG coach Danny Schmitz said of the East title. “We still need to do the things we need to do and control the things we can control.”
The Falcons are seeking to win three straight East titles for the first time. They’ve won back-to-back titles two other times. BG was the pre-season pick to win the division.
“It’s a big game (Saturday) and there’s a lot riding on it,” Schmitz said.
The Falcons are 15-3 in their last 18 MAC games, including a 32-10 loss to West co-leader Ball State April 10. The next day, Leady pitched BG to a 9-3 win over Ball State.
“Early on, too many people were looking at the big picture,” Leady said. “When we’ve taken it one game at a time, we’ve been successful.”
Once Leady started pitching well, he threw his fastball, curveball and changeup for strikes. He also was effective by keeping the ball low in the strike zone and on the outside corner.
“When I’m doing those things, that’s when I’m pitching well,” said Leady, who is 8-2 overall with a 4.84 earned-run average. His eight wins put him in a seven-way tie for the eighth-most wins in a season by a Falcon pitcher.
“I always tell myself it’s a new inning when I get back to the dugout, no matter how runs I might give up. I start over every inning.”
Leady had been starting on Sundays, but was moved up a day to prepare him to start BG’s second tournament game Thursday. The change means less rest.
“He pitched pretty darn well,” Schmitz said. “He really competed very well.”
Buffalo’s 3-0 lead lasted only three batters once BG came to the plate. Logan Meisler led off the inning with a walk, T.J. Blanton followed with a single and Dennis Vaughn homered to tie the game.
The Falcons scored their final four runs of the inning after with two out and no runners on. Matt Pitzulo hit a three-run homer after Mark Galvin singled and Clay Duncan was hit by a pitch. Schlater later singled, Meisler singled him to third and Schlater scored on Blanton’s double.
“We just had to battle,” said Vaughn, who added a two-run homer in the sixth. He’s 5-for-10 in the series with three homers and seven RBI. “You don’t like to fall behind and it’s hard to comeback, but we know we can come from behind with our offense.”
BG leads the MAC with a .331 batting average and scores 8.1 runs per game.
“We have a lot of confidence offensively,” Vaughn said.
Eight Falcons collected BG’s 17 hits, including Jon Berti with four, Blanton with three, and Meisler, Vaughn, Derek Spencer and Galvin with two each. Berti is 6-for-9 in the series, while Meisler is 4-8.
The Falcons offense showed all of its strengths, including hitting for power, executing the bunt and hit and run, and taking the ball to the opposite field. Berti also stole three bases.
“The hitters did a good job up and down the order,” Schmitz said.
BGSU 13, BUFFALO 7
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Agustin 2b 5 1 1 0 Meisler 2b 4 1 2 0
Pizzuto dh 3 0 0 0 Blanton cf 5 2 3 1
Cchrne 3b 4 1 1 1 Vaughn lf 5 2 2 5
Rsnbck ss 4 2 2 0 Martin lf 0 0 0 0
Sknczki cf 4 2 2 1 Spencer 3b 4 3 2 1
Krstdt rf 4 1 3 4 Berti ss 5 1 4 0
Pollock rf 0 0 0 0 Galvin rf 4 1 2 2
Murphy c 4 0 0 1 Duncan 1b 3 1 0 1
Neff lf 4 0 0 0 Pitzulo dh 5 1 1 3
Lawler 1b 3 0 0 0 Schlater c 4 1 1 0
Totals 35 7 9 7 Totals 39 13 17 13
Buffalo 302 001 010 — 7 9 3
BGSU 710 004 01X —13 17 1
E—Agustin, Cochrane, Skonieczski, Berti. DP—Buffalo 1, BGSU 1. LOB—Buffalo 3, BGSU 8. 2B—Rosenbeck 2, Blanton 2, Galvin. HR—Skoneczki, Karstedt, Vaughn 2, Spencer, Pitzulo. SB—Berti 3. S—Pizzuto. SF—Galvin, Duncan.
IP H R ER BB SO
Miville L,4-7 2-3 7 7 7 1 0
Pullyblank 4 2-3 7 5 5 0 3
Klaus 2 2-3 3 1 1 0 2
Leady W,8-2 8 9 7 7 1 5
Gerdeman 1 0 0 0 0 0
WP—Pullyblank. HBP—by Miville (Duncan), by Pullyblank (Spencer).